I know this statement is common, and it sounds so good. But I don't think we actually realize what it is we're saying when we say things like this. Such a statement exposes our sheer hard-headedness. Why would you want to be free to make your own mistakes? Why would you deliberately do something that would most likely have a negative outcome? Why wouldn't you want to avoid unnecessary trouble? Our answer usually is: "so we can learn to get our own leash on life and grow on our own." But this means that we are openly admitting that the only way we learn is by hurting ourselves. We don't want to be told the water is hot, we want to test it and be scalded. At that point, we say, "O.K. good, I got it," as we nurse our wounds. I don't mean to sound harsh, but this is a bit on the Neanderthal side, don't you agree? At least for a species that has the ability to plan and think things through before doing something.
The logic behind this statement stems from the arrogance of over-estimating our own durability and under-estimating life. When we get to our early 20's, we believe that we pretty much have the jist of everything life is going to throw at us: "Everything from here on out is just going to be a variation of what I've already been through." Because we worship our experiences, believing they give us some sort of right-of-passage into adulthood. In believing this, we assume that life will never produce a price tag that we won't be able to pay. So we can freely make all of the mistakes we want because we will always be able to handle it, clean it up, move on, and brush it off. But older people have been on the earth long enough to have seen that some mistakes can have unfathomable price tags. The consequences for some wrong turns can cause pain that will shake your entire life apart, thrash your belief system, cause devastating and sometimes permanent damage to your heart, and leave you broken. These people would tell you, "Don't think you've already felt everything you can feel... Not at the age of 22!" I know we would like to, but we cannot predict the outcome that some of our decisions are going to have, neither can your emotions. We go through life with predetermined outcomes in our minds, and things usually don't turn out that way. If we truly believed that we could handle anything life throws at us, why are things able to upset us on a daily basis? Didn't you know this was coming? There is going to be certain pain that you will wish you could have avoided. I believe we need to come to a point where we admit, despite what our pride tells us, that we cannot handle everything. If we can be taught how to avoid something, we need to have a receiving heart, and stop thinking everything is an attack on our ego.
Honestly, we ourselves don't even believe this principle of 'making our own mistakes' entirely. For reasons such as being taught in school, reading instructions on how to put something together, or being trained on a new job. Not to mention the fact that when a problem does occur, once we find out someone had information that could've helped us avoid it, the first thing we say is "why didn't you say something?" To me "why didn't you say something" seems to be the exact opposite of "I need to be free to make my own mistakes." And isn't a principle you can only stand on for a portion of the time called hypocrisy? The truth is, we only say this because we are bent on doing what we desire to do at the moment, head-strong in believing that since we want it, it's right to have. We really don't want any negative feeling, but at the moment, the most negative feeling is not getting what we want. After disaster befalls us, the most negative feeling at that point is accepting the fact that the person who tried to advise us was right, and this is our fault. At the age of 26 I now know that some things you will have to learn on your own, but if you don't have to...don't. Listen to and consider advice given to you by older people who have been down that road. Even take it a step further and go out and seek advice for what you're doing. I wish I had understood this sooner.
“A foolish man despises advice and correction…”
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